Touched By Kindness

In some past blogs, I have mentioned a second home currently being renovated in Massachusetts. In that state, incentives are given when converting outdated energy wasters to energy savers. On the big ticket items, loans are offered at zero interest that can be paid off within five years. Unexpected discoveries in the very old farmhouse had to be addressed immediately, thereby delaying all other work. We were running out of time before cold weather would arrive, and we needed to have the ancient oil furnace and hot water heater replaced with a new energy efficient gas heating system and likewise a new hot water system. These systems cost a very healthy chunk of change, so we wanted to apply for Massachusetts’ interest free loan program to cover the costs. The catch was we couldn’t apply until the unexpected problems were resolved. August and September came and went and still no loan application. Our heating contractor realized the bind we were in and told us he would go ahead and do the work and we could pay him whenever the loan process was approved. Wow! That type of caring and kindness is rare today, and from my experience, more rare in the business world. We did find the cash to pay for the hot water system outright, so that was installed over a three day period, and currently the new heating system has finally been finished and running for about the last ten days. I think if we had done business with anyone else, we would have had to either find the money to have it installed, or simply we would not have a house with heat. We met with our heating contractor today and told him the progress being made now by other workers in the house was only possible because of his kindness and generosity to wait for payment. The man is the very definition of congenial and said he was fine and understood how time consuming the loan process could be, so he was happy to be able to help us out.

This whole episode got me thinking about other kindnesses shared in the past. Two were life changers.

Many years ago, there was the commanding General of all US soldiers in Korea who said “yes” to Private First Class Billingsley’s request of a 30 day emergency leave to go home because of family personal problems, after being told “no” by my immediate commanding Lieutenant, my platoon Captain, my battalion Colonel, and my division Brigadier General. I don’t take “no” for an answer very well. Having no money to cover transportation money, the American Red Cross flew me home and back a month later. Problems were solved, relationships strengthened and normallcy regained. Neither the General nor the Red Cross staff would ever realize how their sympathy and kindness would alter the rest of my life for the better.

Years later, on a snowy Christmas Eve in upstate New York, my first wife who had been hospitalized was suddenly given permission to be discharged so she could be home for Christmas. After getting home, I realized the only real food I had in the house for us and two young children was pork chops…frozen pork chops. I called a local family-owned grocery store to see if they were open, and talked to an employee, explaining the situation, but was told sadly the store had closed a half hour earlier. I took the chops out of the freezer and eventually went to bed. Christmas morning I awoke to the repeated ringing of my front doorbell. I threw on a robe, opened the door, and standing in the snow was the grocery store’s butcher and his son, each holding a box filled with a variety of fresh food; a turkey, a ham, vegetables, potatoes, seasonings, etc., and two pies. My tears of gratitude froze on my cheeks; it was if the scene was removed from the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”. We were going to have a feast that day because of another family’s act of generosity and kindness. The families eventually lost touch after moving out of the area, but I think of the butcher and his whole caring family often; for this story, and especially every year during the holidays and hope they are healthy and happy.

Charles Kuralt’s book “On The Road”, has this quote. “The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.” Here’s to lifes back roads!

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About Alan G Billingsley

My career has been varied, including time as a newspaper deliverer, lifeguard, bubble gum maker, door-to-door detergent promoter, telephone book proofreader, short order cook, private employment agency counselor and owner, office and credit manger, infantryman, pots and pans salesman, Chinese restaurant cook, Chinese restaurant owner, public employment counselor, budget analyst, tax analyst, grant administrator, radio announcer, radio and television show host, disk jockey, automobile valet, child advocate, and now retiree. I've seldom been bored.
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